AFL fans will have to wait until Sunday afternoon to watch the round match between top four rivals Sydney Swans and Brisbane Lions.
There are two games in particular that I am excited to watch in the AFL this weekend.
The first is the Geelong-Fremantle clash at Cattery, but the last game of the round between Sydney Swans and Brisbane Lions may be the best of the lot.
You have two top four teams facing each other – both with five wins in six outings – who look like legitimate premiership contenders, in a furnace similar to a final at the SCG.
I’ll clear my calendar to take a privileged position on the sofa.
There are stars all over the field: Franklin, Heeney, Mills and Parker for the Swans and Neale, Andrews, Daniher and McCluparmi for the Lions.
I am slightly leaning towards Sydney at this stage, but I can also create a solid argument for Brisbane.
I thought the Swans effort to win last week after conceding their first five goals at Hawthorn had shown a real maturity that continues to impress me of John Longmire’s side.
Despite all the well-deserved hype about Isaac Heeney this year, fellow Swans Academy graduate Callum Mills sits third in the AFL Coaches’ Association Player of the Year award.
Mills garnered top marks after amassing 37 disposals, nine within the 1950s and six clearances against the Hawks, but just as telling have been his efforts to crack down on the opposition’s top player on a few occasions.
I could see the same scenario unfold on Sunday, whether it’s Brownlow medal Lachie Neale, Hugh McCluparmi, or even Jarryd Lyons appearing to be thriving.
That defensive focus will be at the forefront of both coaches’ minds, even if they participate in this competition as the highest-scoring teams (Lions) and third-ranked (Swans) of the AFL.
Brisbane’s decision to send Dayne Zorko to the back line helped him become the best in the competition at passing and scoring from 50 defensives.
Sydney held that role last season and ball movement is still one of the keys to the club’s success.
They also occupy the top two spots for turnovers – ahead of reigning premier Melbourne and top four teammate Fremantle – in another indicator of what could happen this weekend.
I’m willing to bet there may not be a burst of goals despite the offensive prowess of both the Swans and the Lions.
Longmire and Chris Fagan are more likely to go the Ross Lyon route than to turn the match into a Malcolm Blight-inspired shootout.
Sydney must limit Brisbane’s aerial dominance, whether it’s Marcus Adams and Harris Andrews in the back or Joe Daniher and Dan McStay up front.
Paddy McCartin (concussion) is a significant loss to the Swans’ defensive titles, so it could create an opportunity for Will Gould to finally make his debut.
Neither team is excellent with his first half, but Australian Tom Papley’s return from a severe hamstring injury could go a long way in unlocking one of the battles within the football war.
Whatever happens, he will be a ripper. Make sure you are there or glued to the TV.
Originally published as AFL: Mick McGuane looks forward to Sydney Swans vs Brisbane Lions heavyweight bout